A wealthy Indian family has returned to South Africa two months after the close-knit clan left the country following allegations of involvement in several political scandals. The Guptas, sometimes accused of wielding excessive political influence in South Africa, left the country in April, with reports alleging the family had fled.
Gary Naidoo, the family's spokesperson, confirmed to the Fin24 website that the Guptas had returned to South Africa, claiming they were away for two months due to a wedding.
"[The media] made mention of the Gupta family leaving the country," Naidoo said. "One of the sons of the Gupta family was getting married and the reason for them being out of the country was for the wedding. They've subsequently come back to the country...They're very much South Africans and they continue to stay South Africans."
The family left the country after several officials claimed they were offered ministerial positions by the Guptas or were removed from their offices after refusing to accommodate the requests of the Indian magnates.
The Guptas denied the allegations, while President Jacob Zuma said during a parliamentary session on 17 March that no minister was ever appointed by the family.
Zuma has also been accused of having close ties with the family. The president, who is facing allegations of corruption, admitted the Guptas were his friends, but said there was nothing improper about their friendship.
Naidoo confirmed the Guptas were still friends with Zuma, but admitted the relationship was strained. "It doesn't help with media reports tainting the relationship and throwing out wild accusations," he said.
Who are the Guptas?
In 1993, brothers Ajay, Atul and Rajesh (also known as "Tony") left their home country in India's Uttar Pradesh state and emigrated to South Africa, where they set up the family business Sahara Computers.
The Guptas and then vice-president Jacob Zuma met for the first time at the Sahara Estate in 2003. Zuma has often been accused of having close ties with the Guptas and allowing them to influence the country's political scene.
Some refer to the relationship between the president and the family by the portmanteau "Zupta". The scandal involving the family has been branded "Guptagate".
Read more about the Gupta family.